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Since March 2020 the UK Government has been working with the authorities of the UK’s Overseas Territories to ensure that they receive the help they need to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Support provided 

Help has focused primarily on supporting their healthcare systems and economy, ensuring continuity of transport links and access for supplies, and providing security assistance. 

While the Government has not made any specific statements about planning for future waves of the pandemic, should the Overseas Territories be adversely affected, it has made clear that its support is enduring. Financial assistance will continue to be provided on a case by case basis, while additional military support will be provided as needed or requested.

The pandemic 

At the time of writing the World Health Organisation states that Covid-19 infection rates in the Overseas Territories are relatively low. Bermuda was listed as experiencing “community transmission” (the same as the UK).

There have been 131 confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in the British Overseas Territories, 94 of which were in Gibraltar (to 16 April 2021). 

Vaccinations 

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are responsible for arranging and funding vaccines to the Territories, with the intention of delivering enough doses to offer sufficient vaccines to every adult. Deliveries began on 5 January 2021. The UK Government expects the rollout to be completed in a similar timescale to that in the UK.

Whilst the UK Government is responsible for the procurement and delivery of the vaccines, the individual governments of the Territories are responsible for the coordination of their own vaccine programmes. Public Health England has been providing advice on vaccine deployment.

Four Territories have reported that at least 50 percent of their populations have received at least one vaccine dose. On 17 March, the UK Government said that “Gibraltar became the first nation in the world to complete its entire adult vaccination programme”.

Travel rules 

Due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases globally, and the emergence of new variants of the virus, the UK Government has introduced a number of changes to the requirements for international travel.

All arrivals into the UK, including from the Overseas Territories, must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 72 hours prior to travel. Exempt territories include Ascension Islands, Falkland Islands and Saint Helena.

On 18 January 2021 the Government also suspended the travel corridors that allowed exemption from Covid-19 quarantine rules on arrival into the UK. Arrivals from any of the Territories are now required to self-isolate for a period of ten days. Under the Test to Release scheme, an individual can choose to end their self-isolation early by paying for a private Covid-19 test. 

The Government taskforce on global travel reported on 9 April 2021. It recommended a “traffic light” country system, to which different travel restrictions are applied depending on risk. Whether international travel can resume, and which states will fall into each category, will be announced in early May.


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